Proven leadership for an inclusive community that works for everyone.
Bob has dedicated most of his adult life to improving the quality of life of and making it more inclusive for everyone in the community. In his role as a former Alamance County Commissioner, healthcare executive, community leader and volunteer, Bob has devoted himself to the issues that matter most: public education, health care and mental health, older adults, our youth, the arts, anti-poverty efforts and economic development.
(2014 – 2018)
During his 4-year term on the Board of Commissioners from December 1, 2014 to December 3, 2018, Bob served the citizens of Alamance County with energy and resolve. Bringing his planning, financial, management, and collaboration experiences and skills from his 35-year career as a senior healthcare executive, Bob:
- Steadfastly championed the County’s public education system in his words, deeds, and votes
- Helped lead the County’s first strategic planning initiative since 2003
- Supported the wage and classification plan for county staff
- Encouraged the expansion of public transportation
- Brought to Alamance County and then co-chaired the Stepping Up Initiative, part of a national effort to reduce the number of people with mental illness in county jails
- Voted for incentives to attract companies such as Cambro, Lidl, Prescient, and Lotus to create high-paying jobs, expand our tax base, and keep property tax rates in check
- Supported Alamance County farmers by backing the Farm Preservation Program and the Present-Use Value tax system, as well as participating in meetings of the Volunteer Agriculture District Board and the Alamance Food Collaborative
- Helped organize efforts to battle the opioid epidemic
- Brought a lens of racial equity and inclusion to Board of Commissioners discussions
Bob also faithfully represented the county on many other boards and committees, keeping the Board of Commissioners engaged, up-to-date and focused on local needs and issues. These included:
- Liaison to the Alamance-Burlington Board of Education (attended all board meetings, board work sessions, and Joint Facilities Task Force meetings)
- Alamance Achieves Steering Committee (a community-wide collaborative to ensure all children achieve educational goals, from cradle to career)
- Piedmont Authority for Regional Transportation (PART) – Board of Directors and Operations Committee
- Alamance County Transportation Authority (ACTA) – Board of Directors; served as Secretary-Treasurer
- Burlington Public Transit Advisory Commission (Link Transit)
- Alamance County Justice Advisory Council – Chair (Oversees the Family Justice Center and the Stepping Up Initiative)
- Cardinal Innovations Healthcare – Board of Directors and Performance, Evaluation, and Compensation Committee, plus the Central Community Advisory Board (Provides mental health Services for 20-county area, including Alamance)
- Children’s Executive Oversight Committee
- Alamance County Public Libraries Advisory Committee
- Alamance County Board of Health
- North Carolina Local Health Department Accreditation Board
- North Carolina Association of County Commissioners – Board of Directors and chair of the Health and Human Services Steering Committee
In addition, Bob served on the Alamance Eldercare and the Burlington-Alamance Sister Cities boards and regularly attended Community Council meetings, Working Women Wednesdays luncheons of the Women’s Resource Center (of which he is a member), Alamance-Burlington School System functions, and many other community forums, meetings, and events.
“I am proud of the work that I’ve done in my first term as Commissioner,” says Bob. “I’ve learned so much. It’s been an honor and a pleasure to serve my community.”
Bob also has a track record of achievement in Alamance County in his career at Alamance Regional Medical Center and his work with community organizations, seeking to improve the well-being of others and making Alamance County a better place to live, work and raise a family. These include:
- Co-founded Healthy Alamance, a collaboration among ARMC, the County Health Department, the County Department of Social Services, the United Way, and other community organizations, to assess and improve the community’s health. Assisted in establishing Healthy Alamance’s Food Collaborative.
- Helped establish the Alamance Racial Equity Alliance (AREA), a community of anti-racist people that encourages the transformation of thought through training and events to advance racial equity and end racism.
- Played a key role in the transition of the Scott Clinic in northern Alamance County from a private physician’s office to the Scott Community Health Center, a nonprofit, federally qualified health center. Under the auspices of Piedmont Health Services, the Scott Center ensures the expansion of access to medical care in that part of the community.
- Oversaw the recruitment of many primary and specialty physicians, including establishing new medical practices, increasing access to health care throughout Alamance County.
- Led the Alamance County Community Services Agency, as board chair, in developing the affordable housing project, Apple Tree Village, off Apple Street in Burlington.
- Served as the lead ARMC executive in creating The Village At Brookwood, a continuing care retirement community in Burlington, and developing the hospital’s skilled nursing facility, Edgewood Place.
- Helped lead ARMC efforts to develop the Mebane Outpatient Center (now Cone Health MedCenter Mebane), expanding access to primary and specialty physicians and a full array of health services in eastern Alamance County.
- Provided ARMC executive oversight and support to the directors of Open Door Clinic of Alamance County, Healthy Alamance, and Alamance ElderCare.
- Co-founded, directed, and played lead saxophone in the Alamance Jazz Band, now in its 32nd year, an 18-piece jazz ensemble formed under the auspices of Alamance Arts (formerly Alamance County Arts Council) to provide a forum for those interested in performing or enjoying big band music, a true American art form.
Alamance Regional Medical Center (ARMC), Burlington, NC (1978 – 2014)
Bob was a member of the senior executive team for over 35 years, with extensive experience in strategic planning, budgeting, management, development of new initiatives, and collaboration with others.
Areas of Responsibilities
For his later years at ARMC, Bob served as Senior Vice President and was responsible for strategic planning, physician recruitment, physician network development, and community health initiatives. Prior responsibilities included operational oversight of most hospital departments. He also served for many years as the nursing home administrator of the Skilled Nursing Division of Memorial Hospital (now Edgewood Place) of Alamance County.
A Period of Growth and Development
During Bob’s tenure, Alamance Regional grew from two small local community hospitals to a large comprehensive medical center with state-of-the-art technology. ARMC was formed through merger of the two predecessor hospitals, Memorial Hospital of Alamance County and Alamance County Hospital, the first merger of two general hospitals in North Carolina.
This was followed by opening the new Alamance Regional Medical Center, implementing the latest technological advancements in healthcare, creating The Village At Brookwood retirement community and the new Edgewood Place skilled nursing facility, establishing the Mebane Medical Park and the Mebane Outpatient Center, building a new Cancer Center, Emergency Department, and new operating rooms and related spaces, creating ARMC Physicians Care, Inc. (an employed physician network), merging with Cone Health in Greensboro, and many other organizational improvements and enhancements to patient services.
“It has been an honor and privilege to have been a part of the executive team that, along with many other wonderful people, made all of this growth and development happen,” Bob says.
Through this period, ARMC maintained a fiscally sound financial position, with an operating budget twice that of Alamance County’s.
“I know the importance of sound fiscal management and operating within a budget,” Bob says. “I also know that successful growth does not happen without wise investments and good planning.”
Bob’s Early Years
Prior to his career as a healthcare executive, Bob held a variety of jobs. Bob says, “Every one of my job experiences provided me with valuable skills, lessons, and perspectives that I have used throughout my life and today.”
Bob grew up as the son of a small businessman, entrepreneur, and a tool and die maker who owned a tool and die business and an injection molding plastics company. There, working part time during high school and college, Bob was a stock boy, assembly line worker, and draftsman.
“Working for my dad gave me a great appreciation of the challenges small business leaders face, and how hard it is to work on the front lines in an industrial setting,” Bob says. “I was so proud of my dad, who received Pennsylvania’s first Small Businessman of the Year Award in 1965 from Pennsylvania’s governor.”
Bob says his dad was known for his work ethic and innovation, attributes that Bob has inherited. His dad also set the stage for Bob’s civic and professional service, as he also was actively engaged in his community.
Just as important was Bob’s mother, a stay-at-home mom who exuded wisdom, judgement, and common sense.
“My mom was a big part of setting my moral compass,” he says. His mother took her parental responsibilities seriously, enforcing household rules and ensuring that Bob and his three siblings did their homework and practiced their musical instruments. She transported them to music lessons and school activities and made sure they went to church.
“We were all baptized and confirmed in the Lutheran Church,” explains Bob. With parental encouragement and support, he became the first person in his extended family to graduate from college.
After college, Bob served as a part-time substitute teacher in public schools for a year, and then discovered the hospital world when he became an on-the-job trainee in respiratory therapy. He was a respiratory therapist for five years, both as a staff therapist and as a manager, before going on to graduate school in health care administration.
- Master of Health Administration degree – Duke University, Durham, NC
- Bachelor of Science degree – The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA, music education major
- Certificate in Respiratory Therapy – University of Chicago Hospitals and Clinics
- Bob is a product of public education from elementary school through college and took additional courses at a public community college.
- Humanitarian Award – Alamance County Branch, NAACP
- ‘Berth B. Holt’ Lifetime Achievement Award – Alamance County Democratic Party
- Public Health Champion Award – Alamance County Board of Health
- In The Spotlight Award – Piedmont Authority for Regional Transportation
- Lifetime Achievement Award (henceforth named the Robert E. Byrd Leadership Award) – Healthy Alamance
- Community Service Award – United Way of Alamance County
- Business Associate Award – Graham Charter Chapter, American Business Women’s Association
- Service Award – American College of Healthcare Executives
- Distinguished Service Award – North Carolina Health Care Facilities Association
- Life Fellow in the American College of Healthcare Executives (LFACHE)
- Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT – Inactive)
- Licensed Nursing Home Administrator (LNHA – Inactive)
Past Chairman, Board of Directors and Past Campaign Chairman:
- United Way of Alamance County
Past President, Board of Directors:
- Alamance County Community Services Agency
- Alamance County Chapter, North Carolina Symphony Society
- Alamance County Arts Council (now Alamance Arts)
- Triad Chapter of the American College of Healthcare Executives
- Alamance Eldercare
Current Board of Directors:
- Alamance Eldercare
- Burlington-Alamance Sister Cities (Treasurer)
- Allied Churches of Alamance County
- Cardinal Innovations Healthcare
- Alamance Racial Equity Alliance
- Young Musicians of Alamance County
Current Committees and Other Community Organizations:
- Alamance Jazz Band (18-piece jazz orchestra) (Co-Founder, Music Director, and lead saxophonist for over 31 years)
- Piedmont Triad Chapter, Penn State Alumni Association (Treasurer)
- Alamance Network for Inclusive Healthcare
- Alamance County Branch, NAACP (Member)
- Women’s Resource Center in Alamance County (Member)
- Burlington Velo Club (Member)
Additional Past Board of Directors:
- Healthy Alamance (Founding Member, Treasurer)
- Alamance County Transportation Authority (Secretary-Treasurer)
- United Way of North Carolina
- North Carolina Symphony Society
- North Carolina Health Care Facilities Association
- NC Local Health Department Accreditation Board
- Alamance County Board of Health
- NC Association of County Commissioners (Chair, Health and Human Services Steering Committee; District 11 Chair)
- Piedmont Authority for Regional Transportation
- NC Health Care Facilities Association
Past Committees and Other Community Organizations:
- Alamance County Justice Advisory Council (Chair)
- Alamance Achieves Steering Committee (Founding Member)
- Alamance Burlington School System Vision Plan Committee (Stakeholder’s Group)
- Burlington Public Transit Advisory Commission (Link Transit)
- Children’s Executive Oversight Committee
- Public Libraries Advisory Committee
- Adult Home Community Advisory Committee
- Nursing Home Community Advisory Committee
- Burlington Police Department Weed and Seed Committee
- Alamance County Safe Kids Committee
- NC Penalty Review Committee (NC Division of Health Service Regulation)
- Morrow Town Task Force
Bob and his wife, Barbara Bennett Byrd, have been happily married since 1985. Barbara was born and raised in Alamance County and graduated from Graham High School. She is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Greensboro with a Bachelor of Music degree. She has taught piano privately to hundreds of students since graduation, and is the organist and choir director at Graham Presbyterian Church, where she has served since 1992. For 15 years earlier, she was the organist at St. Mark’s Church, where she and Bob were married. Bob and Barbara have no children. They have been homeowners in Burlington for more than 30 years.
Bob and Barbara share their love of music. They have performed as a duo (sax and keyboard) for many church services, recitals, weddings, banquets, and receptions. They initially met in the Alamance Chorale, where Barbara was accompanist and Bob sang in the bass section. They enjoy listening to live jazz, especially big bands, symphony orchestras, and the Choral Society of Durham, where Barbara’s brother, John, sings tenor.
Active road cyclists, Bob and Barbara are members of the Burlington Velo Club. In addition to participating in area rides and charity cycling events, they have proudly ridden across the state 15 times as part of Cycle North Carolina’s Mountains to the Coast ride, a 7-day trek held during the first week of October that follows a different route each year. The fall 2019 ride took them 478 miles from Blowing Rock to Atlantic Beach. Being physically fit and healthy is important to them.
As a semi-professional saxophonist (along with doubling on flute and clarinet), Bob has led an active musical life. He studied saxophone privately with Craig Whittaker of UNCG and flute with Linda Cykert of Elon University, each for nearly two years. In addition to his involvement with the Alamance Jazz Band and performing with Barbara, Bob has had the privilege of performing as a single-engagement sideman throughout North Carolina with such bands as the Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra, the Dorsey Brothers Orchestra, the Guy Lombardo Orchestra, the Atlantic Jazz Orchestra, Reflections, the NC Revelers Jazz Orchestra, the Likewise Swing Band, the Holzhackern Tyrolean Band (“We wear lederhosen in this one,” Bob says with a smile), and several other regionally known big bands, jazz combos and orchestras. With the US Airways Jazz Orchestra, Bob performed in Germany, Holland, Bermuda, and throughout the United States.
“Among my favorite musical experiences was playing in the pit orchestras of local musical theater productions, especially in area high schools alongside budding student musicians,” Bob says.